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Why Adams Oshiomhole must finish strong

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I have always been a fan of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, while he was the President of the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC.

As a student activist then in the University of Benin, I always participated in his many calls to strike actions against the Obasanjo led administration that was hell bent on making life hard for the Nigerian people, through his incessant review upwards of the price of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS or what we call fuel in our daily parlance. 

As a candidate for Governor in 2007, then on the platform of the Action Congress, AC and his long battle in the courts which resulted into his double victories at the tribunal and then the Court of Appeal, Edo State, I had tipped Oshiomhole as the man who would change governance in Edo State and Nigeria and in all honesty, he hasn’t disappointed me. 

Oshiomhole as two term governor in the state has indeed rescued Edo State from the parlous state in which it had found itself owing to its misfortune of having the PDP as its ruling party from 1999 to 2008. Edo state then, despite its listing as a crude oil producing state, was bereft of any meaningful development be it physical or human. The state ranked poorly in all indices used to measure development and this took a negative toll on the psyche of its people. 

Within a few years of his administration, that is his first tenure, it began to dawn on the people of Edo State that the Oshiomhole administration was people oriented.  A number of reforms in key sectors such as education, healthcare, the civil service and progressive taxation were witnessed alongside the total transformation of Edo State from an urban mess into a model state with the full complements of quality road networks, massive drainage to ease the floods that befall the people during the rainy seasons, as well as gainful employment for the youths in the state.

It was for these reasons that the people of Edo State rallied around Oshiomhole for a second stint at office, this was despite the opposition from an array of disgruntled tin gods and godfathers with their huge resources, who had felt short-changed by the populist programs of the comrade governor. 

However, like all the struggles in his life, Oshiomhole will again be engaged in yet another struggle. This struggle will be to decide much the future of his legacy in Edo State. I am talking about who succeeds Oshiomhole as governor. 

Oshiomhole should be largely worried as a number of the tin gods whom he retired from politics and denied access to the state’s largesse which they had in the past cornered for themselves will be out to get their fiefdoms back. 

Should they succeed, these tingods using the instrument of power will do everything to reverse their losses and return the state to its glory days. 

Luckily for Oshiomhole, he has an array of works to help him in this struggle. These works should largely speak for him and the plans for who will succeed him.

However, Oshiomhole should strive to get his political arithmetic right. The politics of who succeeds him will be as important as his politics of developing Edo State. In this measure, Oshiomhole should ensure that whoever succeeds him is acceptable across the ethnic divide of Edo State and is able to reflect the importance of the legacies of Oshiomhole and build on these legacies. In other words, Oshiomhole’s successor must be someone who can be trusted as a torch bearer of the progressive politics that has been the lot of the people of Edo State for the past seven years. 

Whether this successor is a politician or a technocrat will not matter much. What should count is the acceptability of the person to the generality of the people of Edo State. Yes, Oshiomhole may have seen these qualities in his would be successor but it is for him to market these credentials to the members of the party and the electorate across the state. 

As a comrade and democrat, he shouldn’t choose to lord his choice of his successor over all, he should try to accommodate all interests within his party and supporters in his choice, it is only in this manner that the choice of his successor will fly.

Oshiomhole should learn from Tinubu’s experience in 2007, when his choice of Fashola created fissures in the Action Congress and nearly gave the PDP the winning advantage. Tinubu understanding the times did come down from his high horse and was able to reconcile a number of his allies. The rest is history as Fashola pummeled an Obanikoro into near political oblivion.

The mural of this write-up is that the continuance of the legacies of Governor Oshiomhole lies much with how he picks and markets his successor. I wish him goodluck!

Igboeli Arinze

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